Over Nine Years of TV in a Lifetime


30th July 2015

  • Average person spends 9.5 years watching TV in their adult lifetime - a seventh of our lives!
  • Two thirds of adults drink alcohol while watching the box
  • British people binge watch a show for an average of four hours in one sitting
  • Almost a fifth of people admit to watching TV at work (19%)
  • 15% of adults claim they watch majority of TV on demand

We're a nation of TV addicts, according to new research that reveals we spend more than seven full weeks1 a year in front of the telly, which adds up to a massive 9.5 years2 over an adult lifetime - that's a seventh (14%3) of our lives!

The new nationwide study of 2,000 people across the UK shines a spotlight on our current TV habits and opinions about acceptable viewing etiquette. The average person watches an average of 24 hours of TV a week; over a third (37%) eat at least one meal in front of the TV every day; and the average household now has four different devices they watch TV on.

The survey was commissioned by uktvplay.co.uk, which allows viewers to watch content from Dave, Drama, Really and Yesterday on demand. The findings reveal that 15% of us claim to watch the majority of our TV via on demand services rather than live, which significantly increases for those aged between 18 - 24 (33%). Similarly for this age group, over a third (37%) prefer to use tablets, mobiles or laptops instead of a television set.

Goggling the Box

As the average person watches 24 hours of TV a week, 40% are revealed to watch at least 26 hours of TV a week, with a dedicated 7% of us watching up to 40 hours every week - over 5 and half hours a day. But it's the Geordies who take the crown for being the biggest TV addicts in Britain, with 52% of respondents from the North East admitting they regularly watch over 26 hours a week, and 15% claiming they watch in excess of 40 hours of TV on a weekly basis. Those based in the East Midlands spend the least time glued to the box, only averaging 21 hours per week. On average, 63% of people indulge in alcohol while watching TV, proving that Britain has become a nation of 'tellyholics'. Men are the most likely to reach for the bottle (66% versus 59% of women) but it's the Welsh who are the most indulgent, with 70% of respondents enjoying alcohol while watching the box. The Northern Irish are the least likely to enjoy a drink with their evening viewing, with only 43% claiming they do.

Telly Binges

The average British person will happily spend four hours in front of a single show. Young people are most likely to watch shows in bulk: 18-24 year olds spend an average of five hours in front of their favourite show, whereas those aged 55 and over, switch off after just three hours. Furthermore, when asked what the most important feature a catch up service should offer, 38% of people responded that collections were their top priority - so it looks as though telly binging is a habit that is here to stay.

Men vs Women

The survey reveals that women and men share similar at-home TV habits; both watching an average of 24 hours a week and preferring to switch off the box by 11pm each night. However, don't be fooled into thinking this makes for harmonious telly watching, as when asked to choose just one genre to watch for the rest of their lives, the majority of men chose comedy (30%), whereas women preferred drama (43%). Women are also more likely to say its bad form to change the channel if they're already watching a show (18%), whereas men are more relaxed about channel-changing, as only 12% say this is irritating behaviour.


While TV viewing remains the preserve of shared family time (40%), 17% of people surveyed also enjoy watching TV with friends and housemates, and over a third (36%) admit to watching the bulk of their TV alone. West Midlanders are most likely to watch TV on their own (42%), followed by those in London (40%), while people in Northern Ireland are most likely to watch with family (48%). It seems TV watching is also a multitasking activity for many, with 46% of us regularly using a phone or a tablet at the same time as watching television programmes.

This multitasking isn't limited to the use of other devices, with people revealing they eat in front of the TV six times per week on average, while only 15% preferring not to eat in front of the TV at all. This multitasking continues at work, 19% will admit to watching TV in the workplace; over half (56%) of which are cheeky enough to do so right at their desks and a sly 9% going to the workplace bathroom. Londoners are most likely to have pulled a sickie to catch up on their favourite show (12%), followed by those in Wales (11%) - whereas South Westerners (4%) are least likely to bunk off work for a telly catch-up.

The Top Ten Commandments of modern TV Etiquette, as voted for by Brits:

  1. It is acceptable to eat in front of the TV - 39%
  2. People should not hog the remote - 24%
  3. Adverts must be as entertaining as the show - 24%
  4. Channel surfing is a turn-off - 16%
  5. It's not OK to demand a channel change if you're a new addition to the room - 15%
  6. You should always check someone's seen a show before talking about spoilers - 15%
  7. It's unacceptable to talk to people while they are watching TV - 13%
  8. It's fine to watch TV in bed on a computer / tablet / phone - 13%
  9. Entire weekends are there for binge-watching shows - 13%
  10. Couples should not kiss / 'make out' in front of the TV if there are other people in the room - 9%

UKTV's Controller Emma Tennant says,

It's amazing how many hours of small screen time we rack up in a lifetime - which is testament to the great programmes available to enjoy. It seems we are also increasingly taking TV out of our living rooms to watch on the go and create our own TV schedules by watching even more shows on catch up services like uktvplay.co.uk.

uktvplay.co.uk offers shows from Dave, Drama, Really and Yesterday on demand


For more information please contact Claire Howes or Lora Martyr:

CH@taylorherring.com or LM2@taylorherring.com 0208 206 5151

Notes to Editors:

  1. Over 7 weeks of TV a year: Brits watch an average of 23.85 hours a week, x 52 weeks a year = 1240.72 hours a year 1240.72 hours a year / 24 hours in a day = 51.69 days a year 51.69 days a year / 7 days in a week = 7.39 weeks watching TV a year

  2. 9.5 years in an adult lifetime: Average lifetime = 85 years -18 years to ensure adults only = 67 years for a British adult lifetime Brits watch an average of 51.69 days a year x 67 years in an adult lifetime = 3463.23 days watching TV in lifetime 3463.23 days watching TV in a lifetime / 30.41 (average days in a month) = 113.88 months in a lifetime 113.88 / 12 months in a year = 9.49 years watching TV in an adult lifetime

  3. 14% of a lifetime: 9.5 years watching TV of 67 years of average British adult lifetime, 9.5/67 x 100 = 14% of adult lifetime spent watching TV

About UKTV Play

UKTV Play is the on demand TV service that lets you watch shows from Dave, Yesterday and Really whether you're on the bus, at work (we won't tell) or on the sofa. Among the gems on offer are Storage Hunters, Crackanory, Dave Gorman Modern Life is Goodish, Alan Davies: As Yet Untitled, Ghost Adventures, Most Haunted and Forbidden History, so it's never been easier to fill your boots with great stuff from UKTV. You can get UKTV Play on PC and Mac, and there's an app for iPhone and iPad. Or you can put your feet up and watch on the telly, thanks to Virgin TV and YouView. If you're an M+ subscriber on Virgin Media, shows from other great UKTV channels - Gold, Watch, Alibi, Drama, Good Food, Home and Eden - are on the menu as well.

uktvplay.co.uk / Get the iOS app on iTunes / Download the Android app

About UKTV

UKTV is the multi-award winning media company that reaches 42 million viewers a month.

UKTV's eleven imaginative brands - UKTV Play, Dave, Watch, Gold, Alibi, Yesterday, Drama, Really, Home, Eden and Good Food - include the most popular non-PSB channel in the UK and account for 9% of the British commercial TV market. The company's most recent financial results showed record-breaking year-end revenue of £283m and EBITDA of £74.1m. It invested £123m in programming and related launches last year, and is becoming an increasingly significant investor in UK creativity.

UKTV has a truly innovative model, curating brand-defining commissions, high-profile acquisitions and the very best of BBC, alongside programmes originally shown on ITV and Channel 4. The network embraces technology to deliver inspired channels to audiences through Freeview, Sky, Virgin Media, BT, TalkTalk, YouView and UKTV Play, and distributes its highly valued original programmes to 200 territories.

Now celebrating its 22nd year at the forefront of digital television, UKTV - an independent commercial joint venture between BBC Worldwide and Scripps Networks Interactive, Inc. (SNI) - is proud to be the only British television broadcaster to be recognised by Best Companies.

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